Williams' Word with Ray Williams | October 9

GUNS IN WRONG HANDS

A few weeks ago this column suggested that some of our foreign aid money should be used to help the people of the United States, who seem to be becoming a race apart, quite unlike those in the rest of the Western World. Maybe recent actions in that country make it clear that someone needs to help them realise that there are many advanced nations that exist without the need for guns in every home.

If there was an outbreak of some disease that killed about 60 people in a few minutes in any other country we would be sending some sort of aid to help that country. Why not treat the United States in the same way? Particularly as we know this latest outrage will be followed not by a reduction but by even bigger sales of weapons, as has happened after other mass shootings in that country.

The Americans also need to realise that there are nations where all the people are provided with good health care, not just care for those who can afford it.

So, why not an international campaign of Aid to the Americans, where teams from the US are subsidised to travel to other Western countries to see how other people live.

A STRANGE OBSESSION

The Americans love guns. They are taught to do so by the powerful gun lobby which exists simply to convince the American people that they need guns to protect themselves from other people who also own guns – but no-one has explained why an ordinary citizen should own, or be allowed to own, a machine gun.

There is something terribly wrong with a country that does nothing to stop these senseless killings. Their northern neighbour, Canada, doesn’t have the same problem.

Guns are for killing animals (and handguns are only for killing people) but it would be difficult, even for the experts in the American gun lobby, to explain why anyone would need to own a machine gun similar to the one used to kill so many people last week.

And that is why Australians should give thanks to former Prime Minister Howard who introduced the very successful gun buy-back scheme some years ago. It was a controversial but very successful move to reduce the number of guns in our homes.

Sadly, there has been a steady increase in the number of guns in Australia over recent years and they aren’t all in the hands of the farmers who occasionally need them to reduce the number of feral pests that invade their properties.

The police, rightly so, are clamping down hard on the owners of any illegal weapons but, sadly, the number of guns in Australia continues to rise.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT MINE?

It seems ridiculous that Australians are being asked, through that silly postal ballot thing, what we think about same sex marriage, an issue that will affect about two per cent of our population – but no-one in federal parliament seems to take any notice of the fact that a huge percentage of our people don’t want that terrible Adani coal mine in Queensland. Apparently the politicians on both sides of the House have accepted that the mine will go ahead, despite the overwhelming evidence that it is simply a very bad proposal and one that will create huge problems in the future.

Where are the Greens when they are needed? Still squabbling about petty issues when they should be out front defending the public opinion that opposes this mine. We need someone to start talking logic – because logic is something that is sadly lacking in our federal parliament.

The Liberals have always boasted that they are our best money managers but the fact is that the Libs can be blamed for much of Australia’s financial problems. Their answer to any financial problem seems to be to ‘sell off the farm’.

The Chinese must have a very low opinion of our intelligence after Mr Howard’s team got us into the terrible mess with our natural gas, which we sold them at a set price. That deal is now causing big problems. He said it was a great deal but we sold our gas at a price that could not be increased. Nobody, apparently, took inflation into consideration and that is why our present prime minister has big problems with our energy needs. It might even lead to Australia having to buy back some of its own gas.

And this is the party that boasts they are good financial managers.

But what will happen when they find that when that Queensland mine is in full operation, the Great Barrier Reef is suffering even more damage and that the mine is also affecting our huge Great Australian Artesian Basin waters that have been there for thousands of years? And, to top it all, it seems we are even providing this foreign country with financial loans, so it can access our water and run coal trains through to the coast where the coal will be shipped through the Great Barrier Reef.

Will it be the same reaction we get after the mess they made with that sale of all our natural gas supplies only a few years ago? These foreign corporations must really laugh at our incompetence.

The federal government needs to reconsider its approach to the big mining companies. It seems silly that we encourage large foreign mining companies to operate in Australia and even give them a whole variety of concessions to make it easy for them to come and take our resources, but there is not even a guarantee that the miners will even pay a reasonable tax for taking our resources.

There is currently a fight underway to get BHP to pay a tax bill of $1 billion. Surely, in all the negotiations our government should have a written agreement from the miners of how much they expect to pay in taxes in return.

  • Ray Williams has been a Post columnist since retiring from the newsroom in 1993.
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